New AIAS working paper: "Reviewing the measurement and comparison of occupations across Europe"

Kea Tijdens



This paper was written for the InGRID – Inclusive Growth Infrastructure Diffusion – project, which has received funding from the 7th Framework Program of the European Commission (2013-17). It is a deliverable of Workpackage 21 ‘Innovative tools and protocols for working conditions & vulnerability research.’ Section 2 provides a review of the measurement of occupations in surveys in Europe. Section 3 specifies how occupations are measured in web surveys. Section 4 outlines the methodology currently used to test the comparability of the job content and skill requirements in occupational titles. Section 5 details the results of the validation efforts, including the design of a project to measure occupations on a global scale. Occupation is a key variable in socio-economic research, used in a wide variety of studies. Where such studies use quantitative approaches, they usually rely on survey data. In this paper an inventory of 33 surveys is analysed with respect to the phrasing of the question. The vast majority uses an open text format for the occupation question, but the phrasing of the question is different across almost all surveys. In an additional question, half of the surveys ask for a job description, and again the phrasing varies largely across the surveys. Coding of the open format question is usually (semi-) automatic, survey agencies applying dictionary approaches for automatic occupational coding. In web surveys closed survey questions can be asked using text string matching and search trees for navigating. Recently, machine learning algorithms appear to be a promising development, requiring a substantial amount of manually coded occupations to be used as training data for the automatic classifi cation. a huge training set is required for an auto-coder to apply machine learning algorithms. This paper details a design to develop such a training set in a multi-country approach.

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